Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Oct 15 2005 - 08:06:19 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <>
To: "George Murphy" <>; <>
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2005 12:00 AM
Subject: Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

> George:
>>> George:
>>> Actually, IDs do not "say that some phenomena are due to direct divine
>>> action." What they say is that one way or another we can infer design.
>>> The design we infer may have gotten there by secondary causes. There are
>>> IDs who would prefer primary causation, in some instances, to secondary,
>>> but they must justify that beyond merely the design inference.
>> A lot of people who aren't IDers in the current sense of the term, & in
>> fact including some who oppose ID in that sense, believe that we can
>> infer design. What is distinctive about the modern ID movement, as seen
>> in its best representatives Behe & Dembski, is the claim that some
>> aspects of life (irreducible complexity, complex specified information)
>> can't be explained without the idea of an intelligent designer, which
>> should therefore be made part of science. I.e., this involves not just
>> the inference of design but the use of design to explain certain
>> phenomena.
> I don't follow this. Perhaps an example would help. Can you explain this
> distinction using SETI and ID?

I don't choose to do that because using SETI as an example clouds the
distinction between design by created agents & design by God, & the latter
is what ID is about. But the distinction is clear. A person can think that
the state of the world has come about through natural processes, and that
it's so beautiful, ordered &c that there had to have been an intelligent
designer to create a world that would develop in such a way, without
thinking that a designer needs to be invoked in order to explain some steps
in the developmental process.

>> This putative designer is God. (The claim that it wouldn't have to be is
>> simply a tactic used to distance ID claims from religion for purposes of
>> getting them into public school science curricula. It would only push
>> the problems that a designer supposedly solves back a step.) So does God
>> act directly or indirectly - through secondary causes - in creating
>> irreducible complexity &c? In the latter case we can in principle
>> explain the phenomena in question in terms of the secondary causes
>> through which God works & the explicit introduction of a designer is
>> unnecessary. Thus if the distinctive ID claim is to have any content - &
>> to be of any use in the battle with "naturalism" - God must work directly
>> in those situations.
> Well it is a bit more nuanced than that. Remember, though secondary
> causation is acceptable to ID, the fundamental premise is that design can
> be inferred. How could that be? Well think about the idea of God directing
> the secondary causes. Primary causation working via secondary causation.
> The reason why ID has content is because the design can be inferred. The
> difference between ID and TE, then, is not so much the particular
> mechanism, but that design can be inferred. The results are too
> suspicious; too unlikely.

I won't get bogged down in a debate about what the "fundamental premise" of
ID is. The _distinctive_ claim of ID, & what makes it controversial, is
that the idea of intelligent design is needed in order to explain certain
phenomena. That means that they can't be explained entirely in terms of
natural processes. If they could then, even if one believes (as I & other
TEs do) that God is working through natural processes & entities (fields,
particles &c) exemplifying them, one doesn't need the idea of a designer for
their explanation - given, of course, the existence of those processes and

> My view of ID which I think is reasonably representative is that ID is not
> particularly interested in the historical pathway (ie, origins -- the
> question of how exactly the world was created). Design can be inferred
> without knowledge of origins, and origins is way too uncertain anyway.

The issue is not one of ultimate origins but of how God acts in the world. &
the problem is that IDers "aren't particularly interested" in that issue.

Received on Sat Oct 15 08:09:43 2005

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